New Beginnings

Richard Shulman

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New Beginnings Review

by Judith Schlesinger

Richard Shulman began his career as a jazz pianist before an injury focused him on the healing power of music; he then recorded a number of CDs specifically designed to facilitate meditation and spiritual exploration. New Beginnings spills over the bounds of classification: more musically complex than the usual new age offering, it's a beautiful blend of jazz inflections and classical grace, most of it spontaneously created with Adriana Contino, the principal cellist for the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and a familiar duo partner. New Beginnings contains four improvisations and three pieces by Shulman, all of them melodic and soulful. Their character ranges from Shulman's hopeful, happy title track to the tender "Gustav's Lullabye," the building passion of "Native American Prayer," and the poignant "Mom," which is so expressive it's practically verbal. Contino has a warm, strong, velvety tone; her opening to "Song for Smitty" is particularly stunning, while Shulman's thoughtful, delicate solo has echoes of Keith Jarrett. These two fine players achieve the perfect balance between independent and communal creation, as their introspection and joy flow seamlessly around and with each other. New Beginnings is heartfelt and infinitely soothing -- warmly recorded and very well-paced, it will satisfy anyone who appreciates wonderful music that transcends category.

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